Monday, August 10, 2009

The HoG25: The 25 Best Movies of the Past 25 Years (Part One)

Well, we're back. It's time to kick off a new week, and deliver a new installment of the newest House of Georges feature, The HoG25. Each week, we're devouring a topic wherein we select, rank, and defend the top 25 (fill in the blank) over the last 25 years. Last week we kicked things off with the debut installment: quarterbacks. If you haven't checked it out, please do so, and of course tell us how great, or dumb, you thought it was.

We broke up our quarterback piece into two segments, so as to split the reading time. We're doing that for movies as well, but you'll need a small chunk to get through, if, you know, reading is your bag, baby. So, hop past the world-renowned leap, and make sure your popcorn's buttered. It's showtime.

25. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Bankmeister: I cannot think of a more important piece of cinema in my lifetime than the two "Star Wars" trilogies, or the sextuple, if you will, as a whole. That might very well make me a nerd, but color me non-chalant. “Star Wars: Epidode IV – A New Hope,” “Superman,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Time Bandits,” and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” were the first five movies I ever saw in the theater. “Star Wars”, for me, blew them all away. Other childhood hits include “The Neverending Story,” “The Karate Kid,” “Rocky IV,” “Back to the Future,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” None of those, for my green Benjamins, hold a candle to “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” or “Return of the Jedi.” The trilogy, for all intents and purposes, enveloped me. It was a world unthunk, undreamt, and unimagined, one I wanted to see, hear, and smell for myself, and it is, to this day, the embodiment of the perfect good-and-evil dichotomy.

It was about hope, hope that the benevolent can triumph in this universe, that there will be costly sacrifices, horror-invoking truths, and a great, great deal of pain. And it communicated these motifs with the flashiest, most awe-inspiring sensory invocations ever created: traveling at light speed, dueling with lightsabers, owning droids, and knowing dozens and dozens of different types of creatures. And let’s not forget family, love, and politics.

So, “A New Hope” (1979) captivated me. Stopped my world’s orbit. Twisted my way of processing life. When “Empire” (1980) came out, it instilled fear in me. Fear and companionship, and the might of the strong, the ways of the wise. “Jedi” (1983) left me wondering. How could I have feared and hated Darth Vader after he saved his son’s life and told him “You were right about me. Tell your sister... you were right,” as his dying words. I wondered about the emergence of new threats and what the lack of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi might mean to it all. I wondered if I was okay with Ewoks. And most of all, I wondered – having heard rumors in between “New Hope” and “Jedi” about a supposedly six other “Star Wars” installments: What do you mean those were the middle three parts? That just didn’t make sense.

Ultimately, there were only three: “The Phantom Menace” (1999), “Attack of the Clones” (2002), and “Sith” (2005). “Sith,” technically installment three, is the bridge, the knot, the glue to the sextuple. In “Menace” we meet Anakin Skywalker, a young Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gon, under whom Kenobi apprenticed. We also meet Padme, who would later give birth to Luke and Leia. We also meet a slew of other characters, including Jar Jar Binks, whose voice single-handedly ruined the second trilogy for many. In “Clones,” light is shed on the massiveness of the plots of the dark side. Suspicions over the intentions of Senator Palpatine arise, and Anakin and Padme wed, a ceremony forbidden for a Padawan (Jedi knight in-training) learner. Plus, Yoda in a light saber battle.

Finally, we get the great melding of it all in “Sith.” A full 26 years after “Hope” was released, the “Star Wars” audience sees Palpatine become the emperor (who, though Vader’s master in “Jedi,” is destroyed by Vader himself) and turn Anakin against the Jedi Council. Skywalker, having become a knight under the tutelage of Kenobi, is manipulated into a mentoring under Palpatine, and is titled Darth Vader. It is not until the end – the original light saber dual between Vader and Kenobi – that Kenobi nearly destroys his apprentice, only to be saved by Sith Lord Darth Sidious/Palpatine/the emperor, and Skywalker is transformed into the Vader the world knew in the original trilogy. Before his near-destruction, though, Vader practically kills Padme, leaving her to die after giving birth to Luke and Leia. The remaining Jedi go into hiding and the twins are separated for safe keeping. In the middle of it all are the infamous plans for the construction of the Death Star, which bounce around and wind up in safe hands, but not before a copy of them is made by the Rebel Alliance. It is the existence of this copy with which “Hope” opens up; Princess Leia successfully stashes them inside R2-D2, and sends him and pal droid C-3PO in an escape pod to Tattooine just before Vader and his stormtroopers board the ship in search of the copy.

Much changes in a span of two and-a-half centuries. Hollywood itself likely went through 10 dozen changes. Old actors grow old. Some die. New actors surface. Technology advances. Harrison Fords are substituted for Samuel L. Jacksons. But, in the evolution of time, a great idea is still a great idea. In this case, the word “great” is emphasized, never substituted for pretty good, or not bad. The second trilogy was incredible, impossible to directly compare with its predecessor, but amazing for its detail, development, fruition, and cinematic impact. And the success with which George Lucas left nearly zero loose ends warrants, at the very least, a spot here.

24. The Truman Show

Bankmeister: I’ve never claimed to follow the norm of thinking when it comes to film. “The Truman Show,” perhaps, best embodies such a philosophy. Jim Carrey’s existence in the world of drama was never meant to be compared to John Wayne, Marlon Brando, or even Tom Hanks. The nature of the films he has made tell you that. But every once in a while, the most unexpected of seeds is germinated, the perfect amount of sunlight and water sneak in, and a near-masterpiece blossoms. This movie is one of those, and it makes this list for two reasons: 1) The possibility behind the idea is frighteningly possible, plausibly real, and 2) Carrey steps out of his typecast and hits a home run. I’m as far from an Academy expert as you could find, but my sister is pretty close. She says that the Academies are, and I’m paraphrasing here, not so much what matters anymore, but rather, the Golden Globes do.

Ed Harris got a lot of nominees and recognition for his role in this film and he deserved it, but so did Carrey, and Carrey won the 1999 Golden Globe for best actor, and, well, Harris took the supporting actor award in the Globes as well, Those awards, she might say, are the ones that the actors in Hollywood are concerned with, the ones they consider the real deal.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m a freaking faucet when it comes to movies, the hydrant the fire department opens on hot summer days so kids can play in it. Some bad actor in some movie I’m watching to make the wife happy skins their knee and I’m reaching for the Puffs. No kiddin’. But go back to the concept of this film. The notion that one’s entire life, especially now, 10 years after it came out, could be all for entertainment purposes, for the next reality show, for advertising and ratings, is synonymous with original, and accolades go to writer Andrew Niccol and director Peter Weir (“The Mosquito Coast,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Fearless”) for their incredible work in making this film the experience that it was. Harris’ role is astonishing, and the job the supporting cast – as the viewing audience – does to convey their devotion to the “Show” really sells it. And the soundtrack. Soundtracks, to some, go largely unnoticed, but they tie very much into the emotion of particular pieces of film, and the score in this one is very evident. Christof, Harris’ character, tells us directly: "...Easy On the Fog...Stand-By, Crane Cam…Crane Cam...And wide, Curb-Cam Eight…Button Cam Three...Fade Up Music..." Commence crying. And the undying faith of the beautiful Natascha McElhone who plays Sylvia. Without uttering a line, her beauty, both physically, and dramatically, seal this incredible deal. If you haven’t seen it, I gotta ask: “How’s it going to end?”

23. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

Cecil: I would like to take this opportunity to discuss less the movie itself than John Hughes’ career as a whole.

And that’s no stab at P/T/A. I drafted the sucker, I’ll defend it -- it’s an excellent buddy movie starring two of the best comic actors of the last 50 years, John Candy (RIP) and Steve Martin. It’s perfectly paced, humane and loaded with cinematic love for the Midwest . But it is by no means Hughes’ best.

What is, though? I mean, Hughes was such a huge part of moviemaking in the ‘80s that he seemingly had a hand in everything. He even wrote “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” for God’s sake. How do you pick just one? “Mr. Mom”? “The Breakfast Club”? “Sixteen Candles” was a superb movie, even though it suffered from the same disease as most of his other works, an incurable addiction to the easy story -- how many times in a Hughes movie did the rich kid/jock not get the girl? -- but that doesn’t win. Neither does “Pretty in Pink”; even though the sight of a teenage Molly Ringwald still gives me a funny feeling in the downstairs region, both of those films were…how do I say this…meant for the Summer’s Eve crowd.

Ah, but “Weird Science”? Now you’re talking. Pure fucking candy for the teen boy, what with the Kelly LeBrock and the gunfire and the I-can’t-believe-you-dropped-wolfbait-with-chicks-in-the-house. But even upon writing that, I remind myself of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” which I thought as a young man to be a filmmaking achievement on par with the best of Welles. I can’t decide between the two, but I’d probably have to give the edge to Ferris for two reasons: Jeffrey Jones’ principal and Ferris’ girlfriend. YEeeeeow.

Bankmeister: I thought this movie was magical when it came out. Original story line. Fantastic, sore-gut laughs from Candy, and yes, the buddy factor.

22: Brazil

Cecil: “Brazil” is a tough one, because so few people have really seen it, or at least seen the “real” version, the one with the ending that Terry Gilliam wanted that was deemed too dark and depressing. But rest assured, it belongs on this list, and not just because we needed to have a movie representing Gilliam (although we did).

The story, basically, is the tale of a man named Sam caught in the machinery of a future society controlled by an excessively bureaucratic, yet bumbling and incompetent government, a government unconcerned with the use of torture and coercion to keep its secrets and “order” (sound at all familiar?) It’s a comedy -- a super dark one, but, still, a comedy. Robert De Niro is a “terrorist” in the film, by which I mean he is a renegade air conditioning specialist who has a posse of fellow underground HVAC men. Occasionally, the comedy veers into an outright dreamscape. And by occasionally, I mean “most of the second half of the movie.”

It’s not exactly a lighthearted romp. The film ends with the lead character being tortured into madness -- there’s no win for good v. evil, the oppressors successfully oppress. Maybe that’s why it was a complete flop in America , circa 1985; we weren’t exactly dialed into movies that required a ton of thought. We were diggin’ on “Red Dawn.” But I shed no tears for Gilliam—he had his moments in the commercial sun later on, and Brazil has become something of a cult film par excellence. And we dig on excellence.

21: Repo Man

Cecil: The genius of “Repo Man” is not in its plot, which is completely ridiculous -- a rogue scientist, driving a Chevy Nova around Los Angeles with alien corpses in the trunk, attempts to elude a cadre of government agents and dimwitted punks—but in the details, the throwaway lines, and, yes, the performances.

You might think that Emilio Estevez sucks, and you’d be right about that, but in “Repo Man” he found the role of his career playing the hardheaded Otto, and his on-screen partnership with Harry Dean Stanton was dynamite. Stanton is one of Hollywood ’s great forgotten men, and he gets some of the best lines: “I never met a ‘Repo Man’ didn’t do a lot of speed,” being one of my favorites. But director Alex Cox spread the verbal wealth; “Repo Man” is the film world’s most quotable movie not named “Friday.”

“You like music? You gonna love these guys. I used to party with ‘em, back in the day. Asked me to be their manager. I call ‘em, bullshit on that.” – Lite, the black Repo Man

“Let’s go do some crimes.” –Archie the Skinhead Punk

And, of course, one of the best exchanges in movie history:

“But what about our relationship?” Says girlfriend to Otto right before he climbs into the glowing, outer space-bound Nova.


“What about our relationship?”

“Oh, fuck that.”

It’s a cavalcade of silliness, a celebration of the ‘80s and a commentary on nuclear war (according to Cox, who later did Sid & Nancy), all backed by the greatest punk rock movie soundtrack ever, featuring the Circle Jerks (whose own Zander Schloss played the hapless Kevin), Los Plugz, Black Flag, the Juicy Bananas and a title tune by Iggy Pop himself.

20. American History X

Bankmeister: I want to talk about how important this movie is, but I’m terribly afraid of the utmost epic fail. How. How, I ask you, do you tackle race in America without pissing somebody off? How do you analyze someone else’s take on race without ruffling any less than 16,000 feathers? You just freaking can’t, I’m afraid. I’ve never spoken to anyone that was pissed off by this film, so there’s a good start. But again, I don’t know any white supremacists, either. Ultimately though, this film is about hate. It’s about crime. It’s about black and white, right versus wrong, learned lessons, and the irony in the notion that some unlearned hatred might, via circumstances make you hate all over again. But hopefully it won’t. I want to give credit to David McKenna for writing the piece so well. Also, I don’t know if the producer or the director is responsible for assembling the cast in movies, or if there’s even a specific formula. I do know this, though: I liked about as many characters as I hated in this film.

Edward Furlong is freaking terrible. Period. He annoyed the shit out of me in this movie, but he played the role of an obnoxious, warm-can-of-piss younger brother fairly well. Beverly D’Angelo as Doris. Awful. Not to mention that having the widowed, ill-from-smoking-too-much mother of four was just a bit overkill. About the only thing that Fairuza Balk (Stacey) did well in this film was get railed by Edward Norton’s character (Derek Vinyard) and make a strong case for deserving to be tossed in a landfill. She will never, ever make the cut for even a single-A version of Hot Chicks Wednesday. Unless she “helps write” the post from beneath my desk. And gives me five grand. The character Seth played by Ethan Suplee was a very uncomfortable presence. Had to be there, but yikes. If I ever met someone that racist, I would apply mascara to his face with a pitching wedge.

Conversely, Stacy Keach did a tremendous job playing the creep Cameron Alexander. Norton delivered one of his two finest performances ever (“Fight Club”) in the film, and Louis Gossett, Jr. Avery Brooks is spot on as Dr. Sweeney, and Guy Torry as Vinyard’s prison buddy in the laundry room was impressive. I think this film should be a requirement for every inner-city and suburb high school freshman to view and write about. If that were under enforcement, maybe, just maybe

there’d be a few less teeth smashed on the curb.

19. The Matrix

Bankmeister: How do you label “The Matrix”? Science Fiction? Big Brother? A decent film with a pair of disappointing sequels? Obnoxious because of Keanu? I label it smashing. Love this movie. The idea that the world we live in and know is all an illusion being projected before our eyes by an unseen entity is nothing shy of brilliant. Before this film, I’d never heard of the Wachowski (Andy and Larry) brothers, but they wrote and directed the piece, and for that they deserve credit. There’s not a whole lot else to say about it. Amazing idea. Great visual stimulation in the form of the actual real world being a massively huge, compartmentalized storage pod of bodies asleep to reality, while generating energy for the whole project. Fascinating concept to have humans be able to learn in a flash, on the fly, via cerebral downloading. The character names – Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, Tank, Dozer, etc. – left something to be desired, but a minimal price to pay for an action film that involved shooting crap and blowing stuff up for a new, interesting reason.

The film’s best character name was probably Agent Smith, played by Hugo Weaving
And, you’ve got to give the thing some credit for the popularization of Jiu Jitsu, perhaps leading to the fad (Editor’s Note: It might be here to stay, but I’m hoping that it will pass, and real fighting, heavyweight boxing, will again become existent and awesome.) known as mixed martial arts. And the slow-mo bullet dodging, running up the wall stuff. That was new and cool. Lastly,

Carrie-Anne Moss,

and Monica Bellucci (sequels). Yes. And hell yes.

18. Hoosiers

Old No. 7: This is the only sports movie on our list, which seem odd. After all, this blog is nominally about sports, so you’d think we’d have loaded this fucker up with a bunch of jock-type cinema. Problem is, most sports movies suck. I’m a massive baseball fan, but there are only a few watchable movies that focus on the game, and all of them have big flaws. “Bull Durham” suffers from incurable Costner, “The Natural” is heavy on the schmaltz (and really, do you buy 60-year-old Redford playing big-league ball?), “A League of Their Own” has Rosie O’Donnell. Major League is probably the best and certainly the funniest, but it’s predictable and cheesy. Baseball is a hard game played by hard men, and when you take a bunch of soft Hollywood pansies to portray it inevitably they fuck it up.

Football movies are even worse (try sometime to watch The Longest Yard, I dare you). The best movies come from boxing -- it provides the most gripping action and lots of blood and cussing. But “Rocky” was well before our cutoff date, and “Cinderella Man” and “Million Dollar Baby” were good but not great. Surprisingly, cycling lends itself well to the silver screen—Breaking Away was epic, “American Flyers” was able to solve its case of the Costners and let’s not forget “Rad,” which was exactly that. And then you have a couple nice golf movies, “Caddyshack” (too early) and “Tin Cup” (again, too Costner).

Which leaves us with “Hoosiers,” an undeniably awesome movie.

You start with a coach who is blackballed for beating up kids, and I have no doubt those fucking brats deserved it. You have an assistant coach who’s a total drunk loser. You have a bunch of farm boys who hustle and scrap and never miss free throws -- although they’re all too skinny. You’re telling me there wasn’t one fat kid on that team? Every high school basketball team has a fat kid, especially in Indiana . The fat kid was the most realistic part of “Teen Wolf.” You had Jimmy Chitwood, brooding and mysterious superstar. And then you had a bunch of hayseed white boys who upset the talented but undisciplined inner-city black team, who’s coached by an idiot. Playing to stereotypes, always a crowd pleaser.

Bankmeister: Don’t get caught watchin’ the paint dry!

17. The Last of the Mohicans

Bankmeister: “The Last of the Mohicans” is my paid vacation, my peanut butter with jelly, my slider-cutter, my reach-around. I’m a giant sucker for any decent movie about Native American life, and I’m a huge fan of Daniel Day-Lewis. Michael Mann directed this film, and has since produced “Heat,” “The Aviator,” and “Hancock,” among others. Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman handled the soundtrack, which might be the best ever assembled, and not just because of this song:

I love that this story tackles the French and Indian War, one of the most misunderstood pieces of American history. I love that American colonists, settlers, are not the primary subject, and I love the gorgeous scenery, the cold-hearted hatred, the deceit, the cowardice. Day-Lewis, as in every film he’s done, demonstrates a seldom-mirrored talent, while Madeleine Stowe gives a bold display of both hunter and gatherer, with a peculiar beauty. Steven Waddington, as Col. Duncan Heyward hits a home run as a spineless, nobility lacking Brit, while the characters Chingachgook and Uncas are textbook definitions of badass. But the film wouldn’t be much of anything without Wes Studi’s portrayal of Magua, the Huron with the twisted heart.

The dialogue of the piece has its corny moments, but they are heavily outweighed by the abundance of awesome lines.

“Well, we kinda face to the north and real sudden-like turn left.” –Day-Lewis as Nathaniel Pope

“When the Grey Hair is dead, Magua will eat his heart. Before he dies, Magua will put his children under the knife, so the Grey Hair will know his seed is wiped out forever.” -Magua

“Great Spirit, Maker of All Life. A warrior goes to you swift and straight as an arrow shot into the sun. Welcome him and let him take his place at the council fire of my people. He is Uncas, my son. Tell them to be patient and ask death for speed; for they are all there but one - I, Chingachgook - Last of the Mohicans.”

I’ve probably seen this film 15 times, and each time, it’s just as moving as the first.

16. Die Hard

Cecil: “Die Hard” is awesome because things explode in it, and because Bruce Willis proved that he wasn’t just some douche with a fake blues album and a TV show with Cybill Shepherd. Alan Rickman played an evil European, which is kind of his specialty, but he did it first and best here.

How did James Cameron not make this one? He should have. For a few years there he made every huge, things-exploding movie, all of which brought in a metric tonne of cash and furthered his image as this kind of dynamic directorial superstar. Think about it: in quick succession, he did “Aliens,” “The Abyss,” “Terminator 2” -- that’s like the holy triumvirate of early blockbuster porn. But no, it was some dude named John McTiernan. I don’t know anything about John McTiernan and I’d like to keep it that way.

At least Bonnie Bedelia is in this movie.

Bedelia spent the better part of a decade or more appearing as the long -- suffering and/or kidnapped wife in huge, things-exploding movies. By movies, I mostly mean “movies of the week” on ABC, but she was in this one at least, which hopefully helped her pay off her gambling debts.

Alan Rickman dies. Sorry for the spoiler. And I still shudder a little bit when I see Willis walk shoeless across broken glass.

15. This is Spinal Tap

Cecil: Christopher Guest never again wrote a movie as good as this first “mockumentary,” a word that we pretend actually exists simply so we have some way to describe Guest’s work. Not “Best in Show,” not the stultifying “Waiting for Guffman” nor “A Mighty Wind.” Nope, “Spinal Tap” hit all the notes first and best, everything else was just wankery for the PBS crowd. That’s probably the case because Rob Reiner directed it, and Reiner knows the value of keeping an audience awake.
Everyone knows the plot. There’s no need to go into it, except to say that the improvisation which Guest famously demands of his actors is sharp. So sharp that if a time traveler from, say, 1946 showed up to see it at a midnight movie screening, he’d never guess that the dialogue was largely off-the-cuff. (He’d also probably freak out at the presence of negroes in the film-house, too, although that might not be an issue with a Guest movie.)

The genius of "Tap" isn’t complicated: rock and roll stars are truly dumbasses, so we have no problem making the leap from Paul Stanley to Nigel Tufnel, from Richie Sambora to David St. Hubbins. Their enablers really are mealy-mouthed second-stringers like Tony Hendra -- who is also a child-molesting scumbag in real life -- and record execs are all really Fran Drescher.

There are probably websites devoted entirely to arguing about the best lines. For my money you can’t beat when they are arguing over whether or not to make the album cover art a naked woman, leashed and on all fours with a man’s hand shoving a glove in her face, and Drescher’s character says that it’s sexist. Tufnel replies “what’s wrong with being sexy?”

14. Forrest Gump

Bankmeister: “Life,” according to John Lennon, “is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. “Life,” as we know from Forrest Gump, “is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” I cannot believe that this movie is 15 years old. It seems like only yesterday that I was wiping the teary snot on my sleeve in the theater as Forrest spoke to Jenny at her grave. Director Robert Zemeckis took a common concept, the life of a less-than-intelligent man, and tells one of the greatest stories the world has ever heard. Gump lives his so-called ordinary life, a life that runs the gamut of pop culture and American history, and nobody notices, nobody cares. He accomplishes more in one-quarter of the film than most do in their whole lives. And he has love, too. He gives it, unconditionally, but just can’t get it in return, until he ultimately does, and the source of it dies.

I’ve always had tremendous respect for Sally Field, ever since “Sybil” and “Places in the Heart.” She’s a great actress, and she’s adorable. Robin Wright Penn and Hanna Hall were excellent as Jenny, and I will go to my grave thinking of Gary Sinise as Lieutenant Dan.

But of course the big factor is Mr. Tom Hanks, the best actor of our generation. How one man can continue to deliver one dynamic performance after another is inconceivable. His facial expressions, his cadence, and his gait as Gump truly capture human emotion. If you’re a dude, and you think this is mushy, and you can tell me that you weren’t shaken when he said, “I’m not a smart man…but I know what love is,” then you are missing something from your internal inventory. If the line, “She tasted like cigarettes,” didn’t make you empathize and laugh at the same time, you might not be wired right.

Cinema is not an easy thing to write about, largely because of the subjectivity in viewing it. Is there a universal formula for what makes a good movie? If there is, I’ve yet to discover it. One thing I know for certain is that “Forrest Gump” is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, and I’m thrilled that it – be it intentional or “accidental-like on a breeze” – was made.

13. Unforgiven

Cecil: This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’m a huge Eastwood fanboy to start with, and this is one of his really, truly impressive movies -- no lazy self-ripoff like “Pale Rider” or silly monkey-assisted hooraw like “Any Which Way But Loose,” more on the lines of “High Plains Drifter” (another of my all-time favorite films) or “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

Unlike those last two, though, Clint directed Unforgiven. It was lauded by the critical types when it came out as “the last Western” or whatever, which is ridiculous, but still made some sense in context. This was a movie without heroes or true villains, there was no binary conflict between good and evil with good winning out in a hail of gunfire at the end. Eastwood played an old farmer out to make some money, money that he badly needed, and some whores were going to pay it to him to kill some guys he had no beef with to do it. He was a bad guy (or at least, had been one), the guys he killed were bad guys, the sheriff (Gene Hackman in a tour de force) was a bad guy -- but even though all of them lived by a kind of justifiable code of conduct, no one wore the white hat in this film.

Except maybe Morgan Freeman, who ended up tortured to death. Eastwood has never been better -- the end scene always gets me, when, after killing everyone in the bar, he walks out and screams at the terrified, cowardly townsfolk. “You all better bury Ned right! Or not otherwise cut up or harm no whores…or I’ll come back. Kill every one of you sons of bitches. Kill your families. Burn your goddamn house down.” Wow.

Bankmeister: Right turn, Clyde.

12: Friday

Bankmeister: I cannot recall an occasion in which I have ever wished that I, for many years, did not smoke a gazillion pounds of reefer. It would be nice, however, to have that uncannabinolled lucidity in order to discuss the movie “Friday.” Actually, forget that. I can imagine it just fine: “Friday” is an incredibly awesome movie, one that the Iron Triangle watched over and over again in the office of The Independent in the College Union Building of THE Fort Lewis College. Mind you, the repeated viewing of the film often delayed putting the paper to bed, which delayed pretending to study for actual classes, which delayed our crucial time drunk in the bars. And the only reason we got to watch it so many times was because we were constantly too high to a) remember, or b) care enough to return our loaner A/V cart w/TV. Weed is definitely a focal point to the movie, but you don’t have to be a stoner to enjoy it. Of that I’m certain. The humor, courtesy of writers Ice Cube and DJ Pooh, of the plot, the dialogue, and the characters’ mentality outwits the cinematic humor of most anything that was going on circa 1995 when the film was released. You’ve got an all-star case with Cube, John Witherspoon, Tiny Lister, and of course, Chris Tucker.

Now, I never saw any of the sequels. I might one of these days, if I happen upon one being on, but Tucker went the way of Disney after the original, and for my money, has never played as funny a role since. All of the “Rush Hour”s are on basic cable all of the time, and those aren’t bad movies, but when I watch them, I want to channel Tucker to tell him that he was so much better as Smokey. Although, he was pretty damn good as Ruby Rhod in “The Fifth Element.”

But the dialogue. It’s a bit foolish to drop a few “Friday” quotes since there are so many good ones, but it’d be even foolisher to not leave a few. That said, you gotta give props to:

“Remember it. Write it down. Take a picture. I don’t give a fuck!”

“Borrow my car? Most people wanna borrow some sugar. Man, hell no!”

“Stealin’ boxes? Man what you tryin’ to do? Build a clubhouse?”

“Next thing I know, I was locked up in Deebo chicken coop. Only person could get me out my mama. That’s why I be like, ‘Fuck Hector.’” and

“You got knocked the fuck out!”

There are literally dozens more. In fact, there’s not a bad line in the movie.

11. The Big Lebowski

Old No. 7: A thinking man’s comedy, “Lebowski” is not only the best bowling movie ever made (sorry Kingpin), it’s also the best of the million or so films logged by the Bridges family (Jeff, Beau, Lloyd). You could make the argument that the Bridgeses are wildly underrated, while the Sheen/Estevez posse and the Baldwins are completely overrated.

Riddle me this: are John Goodman and Steve Buscemi great actors, or do both simply fill a niche caricature very effectively? Goodman was phenomenal in “Raising Arizona,” “Barton Fink,” “Lebowski” and “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” But those are all Coen Brothers movies, and the Coen Brothers are simply the best filmmakers of all time, so I think we should look at the rest of his resume. Which blows. His big starring roles were as historical figures, Huey Long and Babe Ruth. Unwatchable. He’s got a bunch of supporting stuff, and his best acting job was pretending that he’d willingly fuck Roseanne Barr. I say Goodman’s basically a hack.

Buscemi’s best work was also with the Coens (“Miller’s Crossing,” “Fink,” “Hudsucker Proxy,” “Lebowski,” and especially “Fargo”). But he had funny roles in all of the good Adam Sandler movies and the most bad-ass part in “Reservoir Dogs” (Mr. Pink). I’m willing to overlook his shitty, mailed-in arc on “The Sopranos” that destroyed the fourth season, because he also directed some of my favorite earlier episodes of that show. At the end of the day, Buscemi is a killer actor but just short of Cooperstown as a leading man.

In closing, what the fuck are you talking about? The Chinaman is not the issue here, Dude. I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line, you do not…also, Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.

There you go, ladies and gents. Come back tomorrow for the top 10.


Dylan said...

If John Elway makes it into the top 10, in some fashion, I'm cancelling my subscription to the HOG.
After the calendar comes out.

Cecil said...

The one where we all pose nude? It's already in the mail, hoss.